Sato and Jourdain Jr. Participate in Final Practice Prior to Indy 500 Qualifying; Jourdain Jr. Ran Limited Laps Due to Mechanical Issue

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Indianapolis 500 – Indianapolis Motor Speedway
IZOD IndyCar Series
PRACTICE NOTES/QUOTES – “Fast Friday” May 18, 2012

 

SATO AND JOURDAIN JR. PARTICIPATED IN FINAL DAY OF PRACTICE PRIOR TO QUALIFYING FOR THE INDY 500; JOURDAIN JR. RAN LIMITED LAPS DUE TO MECHANICAL ISSUE

1)         Marco Andretti          227.540 mph / 39.5535          36 laps
17)       Takuma Sato             224.825 mph / 40.0312          43 laps
28)       Michel Jourdain Jr.   221.396 mph / 40.6511          12 laps

TAKUMA SATO, No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “It was not an easy day. Today was all about qualifying preparation, starting to trim the car aerodynamically and we got extra boost too.  Straight line and corner entry speed was a lot faster than the last five days and we were working on improving both the mechanical grip and the reduction of the drag.  There were a few elements that were positive but we have work to do before qualifying tomorrow.”

FAST FACTS: Sato will be in Columbus, Ohio on Monday, May 21 for a media tour with team owner Bobby Rahal… Will be his third Indy 500 and EIGHTH race at IMS after competing in F1 races here in 2002, 2004-07… In the Indy 500, he narrowly missed making it into the Fast Nine in qualifying with his 10th fastest qualifying average for the 2011 race and retired in 33rd place due to contact after 20 laps.  In 2010 he qualified 31st and finished 20th after completing 198/200 laps – both for KV Racing Technology… IMS is the site of Sato’s best F1 finish of third in 2004 – the same year RLL won the Indy 500 with Buddy Rice… Is Sato’s first season at RLL and third in IndyCar… Sato led two of the first three races but failed to finish due to mechanical failure (St. Pete & Barber) and “avoidable contact” by Hunter-Reay ( Long Beach) on the final lap en route to a career best finish of third.  When he did finally see the checkered flag, he earned his best series finish to date of third place in Brazil despite starting 25th due to an unapproved engine change… Moved from a 16th-place rank in series points to his highest career series rank to date of seventh with 83.

MICHEL JOURDAIN JR, No. 30 Office Depot / RLL Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “It was not such a good day. On Fast Friday you are excited to work on the qualifying setup and unfortunately we had a problem early on and we didn’t run many laps so we weren’t really able to work on our qualifying setup. I felt a loss of power and the guys told me to shut it down. I don’t know what they saw in the telemetry but they told me to shut it down. Then I saw smoke so there was a fire. I could definitely feel the difference in power with more boost. It was fun to drive. It was our first run and we were just starting to trim the car.  Tomorrow is qualifying so we don’t know where we are at, set-up wise.  That is what we were going to work on today. It’s a long race though. It’s not the end of the world.”
 

FAST FACTS: Jourdain will be in Los Angeles for a media tour on Monday, May 21 and Mexico City on May 22 after qualifying… Jourdain is competing in his second Indianapolis 500 race. His No. 30 Honda-Dallara-Firestone entry is sponsored by Office Depot Mexico with associate sponsorship from Roshfrans, Grupo Indi and Grupo Multi… He qualified eighth and finished 13th in the 1996 Indy 500 race… He is returning to open wheel racing for the first time since 2004… He made 152 starts in the CART/Champ Car World Series and three in the IRL/IndyCar Series (1996/97 season) between 1996-2004… His highest finish in the IRL/IndyCar Series is second place at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 1996 and he earned two wins in CART/CCWS in 2003 at Montreal and Milwaukee while driving for Team Rahal… With support from Ford Motor Company, he moved to NASCAR’s Nationwide Series from 2005-2008 and also competed in the Camping World Truck Series in 2006. Since then, he competed in various rally and sports car series. 

JAY O’CONNELL, Technical Director: “Takuma made several qualifying run simulations today so he is prepared and ready to go. We have a good idea of what we have set-up wise for qualifying.  Michel also started towards qualifying but unfortunately had an engine issue so they are busy putting his car back together but it looks like it will be ready to go tomorrow. He is looking forward to a good couple of runs in the morning practice before heading out for qualifying. Even though they split the groups in half, there will still be 16 cars out there and it is difficult to get a clean lap but he just needs to get a feel for his car again; make sure everything feels okay — which I’m sure it will be fine – and get himself setup for a good qualifying run. I think Michel is confident that the car will feel good when it’s trimmed out and that he can have a good run.”

RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT INDY … The team’s highest start and finish in the event came in 2004 when Buddy Rice won from pole. In addition, the team has earned a total of four podiums (2nd – Meira 2005; 3rd – Rahal 1994, 1995). The team was in contention to win the race as recent as 2011 when Bertrand Baguette led laps 139-140 and laps 189-197 of the 200 lap race. Had a caution come our before Baguette was forced to pit for a splash of fuel, he might have been the victor. The race ultimately ended under caution when JR Hildebrand crashed on the front straight while in the lead on the final lap… The 2012 race will mark the 15th year for the team in the event.  Prior to 2012, the team prepared a total of 26 entries for drivers such as Bobby Rahal (1992-1995), Mike Groff (1994), Raul Boesel (1995), Jimmy Vasser (2002-2003), Kenny Brack (2003, 2005), Buddy Rice (2004, 2006; DNC 2005 due to practice crash), Vitor Meira (2004, 2005), Roger Yasakawa (2004), Danica Patrick (2005, 2006), Jeff Simmons (2006, 2007), Scott Sharp (2007), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2008), Oriol Servia (2009), Graham Rahal (2010), Bertrand Baguette (2011) and Jay Howard (2011).  The No. 15 entry for Takuma Sato and No. 30 Office Depot / RLL Racing entry for Michel Jourdain will bring that total to 28 in 2012.

NEXT UP:  The final day of practice will take place tomorrow.  Pole day will be Saturday, May 19 and will be televised on NBC Sports Network from 11:00-2:30 and 4:30-6:30 p.m. ET.  The second day of qualifying on May 20 will also be aired live on NBC Sports Network from 12:00-6:30 p.m. ET.  The 96th Indianapolis 500 race will be May 27 and will be televised by ABC at 11a.m. (ET) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network on SiriusXM (XM 94 and Sirius 212). Timing and Scoring information is available for all sessions from www.indycar.com.

PHOTO AND VIDEO AVAILABLE: Media members who register on the IndyCar Series media site have access to photography as well as video. Video will be available specifically of Office Depot/RLL Racing driver Michel Jourdain in Spanish the evening of each practice day (and English most days) via a link that will be sent by the team per request. Register for access to photos at: http://www.indycarmedia.com/pages/ApplyforAccess